THAT AIN’T FAIR

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MUSINGS

THAT AIN’T FAIR

Matthew 20:1-16
The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at daybreak to hire workers for his vineyard. After agreeing to pay the workers the usual day’s wages, he sent them to work in his vineyard. About 9 a.m. he saw others standing in the marketplace without work. He said to them, ‘Work in my vineyard, and I’ll give you whatever is right.’ So they went. “He went out again about noon and 3 p.m. and did the same thing. About 5 p.m. he went out and found some others standing around. He said to them, ‘Why are you standing here all day long without work?’ “‘No one has hired us,’ they answered him. “He said to them, ‘Work in my vineyard.’ “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard told the supervisor, ‘Call the workers, and give them their wages. Start with the last, and end with the first.’ “Those who started working about 5 p.m. came, and each received a day’s wages. When those who had been hired first came, they expected to receive more. But each of them received a day’s wages. Although they took it, they began to protest to the owner. They said, ‘These last workers have worked only one hour. Yet, you’ve treated us all the same, even though we worked hard all day under a blazing sun.’ “The owner said to one of them, ‘Friend, I’m not treating you unfairly. Didn’t you agree with me on a day’s wages? Take your money and go! I want to give this last worker as much as I gave you. Can’t I do what I want with my own money? Or do you resent my generosity towards others?’ “In this way the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Some of Jesus’s parables begin with “The kingdom of heaven is like.” In those stories he is trying to explain the spiritual world to people in the physical world. Many of the prophets tried to do this also. Daniel dreamed of heaven as having talking leopards with four heads, rivers of fire, burning thrones and many marvellous images. (Daniel 7) Jeremiah saw almond branches and boiling pots. (Jeremiah 1) The book of John’s Revelation is full of fantastic imagery. It must be incredibly difficult to find earthly things to explain heavenly things.

Jesus’s story here, if taken literally, is an example of very poorly managed vineyard. The landowner waited too long to hire people to do the harvesting. Even when he did hire people, he failed to hire enough to get the job done and had to keep hiring more and more. And when it came time to pay them they were all paid equally. That is just bad money management. He should have paid them an hourly rate instead of a flat rate. How foolish were the workers who took a job with only the promise of, “I’ll give you whatever is right” or in some cases no promise of pay at all.

The story isn’t about the economics of earth or heaven. It is about the loving mercy of God. It makes no difference to Him if you accepted his salvation as a youth or an old person, the reward is the same.

Thank you God that you choose mercy over “fairness”.

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WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?

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MUSINGS

WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?

Matthew 19:27-30
Then Peter replied to him, “Look, we’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get out of it?” Jesus said to them, “I can guarantee this truth: When the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne in the world to come, you, my followers, will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who gave up homes, brothers or sisters, father, mother, children, or fields because of my name will receive a hundred times more and will inherit eternal life. However, many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

Give up everything and pick up your cross.* Wear a yoke.** Be last. Be a slave to all.*** These are the things Jesus demands of us. But what’s in it for me? That is what Peter wanted to know. And, if we are honest with ourselves, it is something that we all wasn’t to know. We weigh the reward against the duty.

If you were looking for job, would you answer an advertisement that read, “Looking for workers willing to relocate to unknown areas, do back breaking labor, and face certain death for absolutely no wages or benifits”? No, of course not! If we do the task, we expect the pay.

So what are we promised for payment? (You) will receiv a hundred times more and will inherit eternal life. One hundred to onesounds like an excellent deal. Honestly, out you knew for an absolute fact that every dollar you gave would come back as a hundred dollar bill, shouldn’t you sell your car, your home and everything you own, take the money, and give it all to receive one hundred times more? You would be foolish not to do so.

Now, what would you give to have an unending life in the living presence of the creator of everything? Would it be worth a few minutes of daily bible study or a donation of time and/or resources to help someone in need?

Having gained one hundred fold and eternal life, is there a reason (acceptable to God) that you wouldn’t share this blessing with everyone one you meet?

What’s in it for me is the same as what’s in it for you and everyone.

*Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Those who want to come with me must say no to the things they want, pick up their crosses, and follow me.

**Matthew 11:29
Place my yoke over your shoulders, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble. Then you will find rest for yourselves.

***Mark 9:35
He sat down and called the twelve apostles. He told them, “Whoever wants to be the most important person must take the last place and be a servant to everyone else.”

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SAVE YOURSELF?

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MUSINGS

SAVE YOURSELF?

Matthew 19:23-26
Jesus said to his disciples, “I can guarantee this truth: It will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. I can guarantee again that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” He amazed his disciples more than ever when they heard this. “Then who can be saved?” they asked. Jesus looked at them and said, “It is impossible for people to save themselves, but everything is possible for God.”

There is a very old saying about the man who lifted himself by the bootstraps. Over the years the meaning has changed a bit. It is now given as a motivational statement along the line of, “Get up, dust yourself off and lift yourself by the bootstraps.”

Of course in reality you can no more lift yourself into the air by pulling on the straps of your boots than you can lift yourself from quicksand by pulling on your own hair. You can not lift yourself and neither can you save yourself.

Jesus said, “It is impossible for people to save themselves.” His statement refers back to the question by the rich man in Matthew 19:16. “Teacher, what good deed should I do to gain eternal life?” Do you understand that this man wanted to gain eternal life by some action out his own? Do you understand that you can DO nothing tho gain life otherthat follow Jesus. He is the way* to life. Our actions matter only in our obedience not our salvation.

*Jesus answered him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

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ALL OR NOTHING

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MUSINGS

ALL OR NOTHING

Matthew 19:16-22
Then a man came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, what good deed should I do to gain eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you want to enter into life, obey the commandments.” “Which commandments?” the man asked. Jesus said, “Never murder. Never commit adultery. Never steal. Never give false testimony. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” The young man replied, “I have obeyed all these commandments. What else do I need to do?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, sell what you own. Give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then follow me!” When the young man heard this, he went away sad because he owned a lot of property.

Jesus called many more than the twelve apostles. Others were called but they wouldn’t come. What did Jesus require of the man in this story that was different from what he asked of the others? Nothing! He demanded that they must drop what they were doing and follow him. Nothing can be valued above being his follower. (Luke 14:26)

By the way, his call still goes out and the demand is the same, all or nothing. You can not stand with on foot on the path and the other off the path. Will you follow or be left behind?

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THE IMPERFECT SOLUTION

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MUSINGS

THE IMPERFECT SOLUTION

Matthew 19:1-12
When Jesus finished speaking, he left Galilee and traveled along the other side of the Jordan River to the territory of Judea. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

Some Pharisees came to test him. They asked, “Can a man divorce his wife for any reason?” Jesus answered, “Haven’t you read that the Creator made them male and female in the beginning and that he said, ‘That’s why a man will leave his father and mother and will remain united with his wife, and the two will be one’? So they are no longer two but one. Therefore, don’t let anyone separate what God has joined together.” The Pharisees asked him, “Why, then, did Moses order a man to give his wife a written notice to divorce her?” Jesus answered them, “Moses allowed you to divorce your wives because you’re heartless. It was never this way in the beginning. I can guarantee that whoever divorces his wife for any reason other than her unfaithfulness is committing adultery if he marries another woman.”

The disciples said to him, “If that is the only reason a man can use to divorce his wife, it’s better not to get married.” He answered them, “Not everyone can do what you suggest. Only those who have that gift can. For example, some men are celibate because they were born that way. Others are celibate because they were castrated. Still others have decided to be celibate because of the kingdom of heaven. If anyone can do what you’ve suggested, then he should do it.”

The Pharisees came with a question that wasn’t a question. It was a trap. Over and over they came at Jesus with the intent to snare him, hoping to catch him in an infraction of their law. And make no mistake, it was their law, not the law of Moses nor the Law of God. They had interpreted and embellished it to where it no longer resembled what it once was. The Law was given as a guide to holiness. The ruling Pharisees had added many codicils to the true will of God. They were using the law as a weapon. Jesus said, “They make loads that are hard to carry and lay them on the shoulders of the people. However, they are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” (Matthew 23:4)

Jesus first condemned their heartlessness and then pointed to the true purpose of marriage as God intended, the joining of two into one. He then fed their own law back to them with an even tighter explanation of when divorce was applied and the spiritual consequence of divorce.

That answered the Pharisees but the disciples offered their own restriction, “it’s better not to get married.” Jesus neither condones nor condemns them for their thinking but said, “Not everyone can do what you suggest.”

Unfortunately, two don’t always become one. Sometimes they are neither still two nor completely one. They only become twone. And twone is easily divided.

Divorce is an example of humankind’s inability or unwillingness to live within the will of the Creator. It is an imperfect solution to the trials of life and not what God intended.

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FORGIVE 490 TIMES

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MUSINGS

FORGIVE 490 TIMES

Matthew 18:21-35
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked him, “Lord, how often do I have to forgive a believer who wrongs me? Seven times?” Jesus answered him, “I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy times seven. “That is why the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to do this, a servant who owed him millions of dollars was brought to him. Because he could not pay off the debt, the master ordered him, his wife, his children, and all that he had to be sold to pay off the account. Then the servant fell at his master’s feet and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will repay everything!’ “The master felt sorry for his servant, freed him, and canceled his debt. But when that servant went away, he found a servant who owed him hundreds of dollars. He grabbed the servant he found and began to choke him. ‘Pay what you owe!’ he said. “Then that other servant fell at his feet and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will repay you.’ But he refused. Instead, he turned away and had that servant put into prison until he would repay what he owed. “The other servants who worked with him saw what had happened and felt very sad. They told their master the whole story. “Then his master sent for him and said to him, ‘You evil servant! I canceled your entire debt, because you begged me. Shouldn’t you have treated the other servant as mercifully as I treated you?’ “His master was so angry that he handed him over to the torturers until he would repay everything that he owed. That is what my Father in heaven will do to you if each of you does not sincerely forgive other believers.”

Seventy times seven, Jesus answered Peter’s question with a number, 490. That was what Peter wanted to know, “how many”. Peter thought seven times should be more than sufficient. After all Jesus had said, “I tell you not to oppose an evil person. If someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn your other cheek to him as well.” (Matthew 5:39) In his own thinking it was simple, rather than turning the other cheek only once, he was willing to grant seven whole cheeks.

However Jesus now said seventy times seven was the number of times that Peter needed to forgive. And he didn’t stop there, he told Peter a parable to demonstrate what true forgiveness looked like. True forgiveness is a gift that must be passed on.

Forgive us our debts (sins) as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12) is, at times a hard pill to swallow. If we fail to forgive, our own forgiveness may be in jeopardy. That is the clear implication in the parabel. “His master was so angry that he handed him over to the torturers until he would repay everything that he owed. That is what my Father in heaven will do to you if each of you does not sincerely forgive other believers.”

The true answer to Peter’s question isn’t a number. Realistically, if you are keeping track of the number of times you have forgiven a fellow believer, you never sincerely forgave the first time.

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FREED OR IMPRISONED

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MUSINGS

FREED OR IMPRISONED

Matthew 18:15-20
“If a believer does something wrong, go, confront him when the two of you are alone. If he listens to you, you have won back that believer. But if he does not listen, take one or two others with you so that every accusation may be verified by two or three witnesses. If he ignores these witnesses, tell it to the community of believers. If he also ignores the community, deal with him as you would a heathen or a tax collector. I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you imprison, God will imprison. And whatever you set free, God will set free. “I can guarantee again that if two of you agree on anything here on earth, my Father in heaven will accept it. Where two or three have come together in my name, I am there among them.”

Whatever you imprison, God will imprison. And whatever you set free, God will set free.” What an amazing power to be given. Use it wisely. Bind Satan and his followers but set the captives free. When freed, some will come running and leaping and praising God. But not all.

We purchased a house that was over a hundred years old. It had mice. My solution was to look for for an old tomcat. We needed a bold hunter. However, our daughter came home with two female kittens in a pet carrier. When we opened the carrier they refused to come out, no master how we tried to coax them out. When we reached into the crate, they backed into the corner and hissed at us.

Apparently these kittens had been raised in a cage and were frightened of freedom. We left the carrier door open and placed some food outside of it. It was hours before they ventured out, and then scurried back inside.

Those freed from the shackles of sin often react as these kittens did. When told that Jesus has paid their bail, they are distrustful. They might even growl and attack those who release them. Gradually, with the application of Christlike love they may venture forth.

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